Listening is a huge part of effective communication. If you’re not great at it, you probably have trouble accomplishing much and maintaining quality relationships. 

The biggest part of improving your listening skills is realizing the need for improvement — and you’ve done that. Here’s some advice to make positive changes and help you become a better listener. 

Put Your Devices Aside 

It can be hard to be present in today’s connected world. Whether your phone is buzzing with text messages or you’re checking the news on your laptop, it’s not uncommon to have a conversation while your mind is somewhere else. The thing is, you can’t focus on two things at once, so you’re probably not going to hear much of what the other person is saying. 

Avoid this by switching your devices off or turning away from them when someone is talking to you. This is a sign of respect and it will allow you to really hear what they’re saying. 

Maintain Eye Contact 

If you don’t look at the other person while they’re talking, you’re probably going to get distracted by something else. Maintaining steady eye contact allows you to focus while showing them you’re listening. This will allow you to be in the moment, which will help you retain the information being relayed to you. 

Ask Questions 

When you don’t fully understand what a person is saying, it’s easy for your brain to turn off. Avoid this by asking questions to gain clarity and fully immerse yourself in the conversation. This shows the other person you’re invested in the conversation and want to understand what they’re saying. 

Realize How it Feels to Not Be Heard 

Chances are, you’ve probably lead a one-sided conversation today. It doesn’t feel great to talk to someone who clearly isn’t listening to you, so use this experience to be better for others. When you’re able to empathize with the frustration of trying to talk to someone who just isn’t listening, you won’t want to do the same to someone else. 

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